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  • ASH Review

    Alibi in Ashes: released in June 2011

    Based on the Books: The Clues Challenge (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #163, published in 2000) and False Impressions (Nancy Drew Case Files #43, published in 1990)

    How Closely Does the Game Follow the Book?: Not too closely. Most of the characters and plots are different. There are a few plot elements from the books in the game, though. The "Clues Challenge" contest is from the first book and Nancy getting arrested/being framed is from other one. Also, Brenda Carlton is in one of the books. Those are pretty much the only similarities.

    Location: River Heights, Nancy's hometown

    The Mystery/Crime: Arson

    Mode Of Transportation: Car

    Is there an alarm clock in this game?: No

    What is learned about in this game?: Police procedures and criminal investigation technologies

    Brief Plot Synopsis: Nancy is framed for arson and arrested. She and her friends must find out who actually started the fire in order to clear Nancy's name.

    Brief Character Synopsis:

    1. Alexei Markovic - a former detective who now runs an antique shop
    Actor I would cast to play him if it were a live action movie/TV show: Marshall Bell

    2. Antonia "Toni" Scallari - a politician who also runs an ice cream shop
    Actress I would cast to play her if it were a live action movie/TV show: Laura Linney

    3. Brenda Carlton - an aggressive news reporter
    Actress I would cast to play her if it were a live action movie/TV show: Krysten Ritter (the books describe her as having long black hair)

    4. Deirdre Shannon - a snobby and arrogant college student who has a crush on Ned
    Actress I would cast to play her if it were a live action movie/TV show: Sarah Hyland

    Phone Characters:

    1. Bess Marvin - Nancy's friend (also playable in this game)

    2. Carson Drew - Nancy's father

    3. George Fayne - Nancy's friend (also playable in this game)

    4. Holly - Deirdre's friend

    5. Jessica - Deirdre's friend

    6. Ned Nickerson - Nancy's boyfriend (also playable in this game)


    Other characters:

    Chief McGinnis - River Heights' chief of police

    Various townspeople


    My favorite quotes:

    "If it weren't for you, this would be the worst experience of my life, and I get knocked unconscious and thrown into a dungeon every other week." - Nancy Drew

    "And I'm lucky to have a daughter who only rarely goes to jail." - Carson Drew

    "Most of the good-looking ones are dumb as a big box of stupid." - Toni Scallari

    "Power ballads. The number one cause of running red lights." - Nancy Drew

    "A lot of what I do is setting up a trap and seeing if anyone falls for it. And when they do - WHAM! See you at eleven 'cause you just got nined!" - Brenda Carlton (oh, how this quote so perfectly captures this character!)


    My Thoughts: I would say that this is a "love it or hate it" game except for the fact that I don't either love it or hate it. Seems like most other people either love it or hate it, though. Personally, I have mixed feelings about this game.

    The game is incredibly easy compared to the other Nancy Drew games (with the exception of the difficult tunnel ending), which is both a good thing and a bad thing. It's good because it gives me a sense of accomplishment being able to figure it out on my own without having to look at a walkthrough multiple times. It's bad because it makes the game much less of a challenge and makes the game much shorter than most of the other games.

    The plot is great and I think is the best part of the game for me. That Nancy and her friends have to clear her name is definitely original. On top of that it leads to much more realistic tasks than in some of the other games. Nancy and her friends do things that would really be useful in real life such as fingerprinting and analyzing samples. For me this was a great change of pace from the usual unrealistic and non-relevant puzzles. Although there are certainly a fair share of unrealistic elements and plot holes in this game, such as Nancy being able to run all over the police station and get into everything even though she's there because she's been arrested.

    Being able to see Nancy's home and hometown is fun, but it would have been nice to be able to see/explore more of the locations. It's also cool that Brenda Carlton and Deirdre Shannon, recurring characters from the books, are in this game.

    I loved that there are a lot of great references to previous games and even to some books that haven't been made into games.

    I was hoping that being able to play as four different characters would give this game a lot of replay value. However, the characters all say pretty much the exact same thing (both the suspect characters and the character your're playing as) regardless of which character you choose. So it doesn't add to the replay value at all. This was very disappointing to me.

    The characters are decent. Certainly not my favorite cast of characters ever, but I find them interesting enough and I like that they all have legitimate motives for burning down the town hall and framing Nancy.

    I really like scavenger hunts, so I was also disappointed that we didn't get to actually do any of The Clues Challenge.

    I hate the design for Bess in this game. It was so much better previously. Bess is NOT skinny and homely; she is always described in the books as being curvy and pretty.

    I am not a fan of how linear this game is. I much prefer the non-linear games.

    All in all, I definitely give this game points for being different. I like that it's original and a change of pace from their other games. However, the format of their other games work well and I feel like something's missing here. I can't quite put my finger on exactly what it is, but there's something that keeps me from loving this game. I like it, but I don't love it like I do most of the other Nancy Drew games.


    My random comment: I really like the book in Nancy's house of the cakes. Such cool cake designs and very cool that HER Interactive put fans in the game so prominently!

    My Rating: 6/10
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